NEWS
20/02/2018 18:21 SAST | Updated 20/02/2018 18:36 SAST

Oxfam Confirms Seven New Sex Allegations In High Street Shops

'We really want people to come forward wherever they are and whenever this happened.'

JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
Oxfam has admitted it has received seven new allegations of sexual misconduct relating to incidents in its high street stores

Oxfam has received 26 further allegations of sexual misconduct since revelations of alleged abuse by its staff in Haiti surfaced two weeks ago.

The crisis-hit charity revealed that of the new complaints, 16 are from its international division while seven relate to incidents in its British high street shops.

A spokesperson refused to tell HuffPost UK how many of those allegations were made against unpaid volunteers working in stores. 

Yui Mok - PA Images via Getty Images
Caroline Thomson, left, Oxfam's chair of trustees accompanies Mark Goldring, centre, Oxfam's CEO, with Winnie Byanyima, right, Oxfam's head of international, at Parliament on Tuesday

It comes after HuffPost reported last week how Oxfam did not routinely check the criminal records of volunteers in its shops, despite them working alongside children as young as 14-years-old.

The new allegations relate to incidents from 1995 to the present day.

The charity has already confirmed that there were 52 safeguarding incidents in its 650-store network last year. 

The spokesperson added: “26 new cases have so far been reported to Oxfam’s safeguarding team since our appeal for people to come forward. 

“We are committed to fully investigating all cases and we cannot comment on any further details until the investigations have been completed.”

Oxfam’s chief executive, Mark Goldring, faced MPs on Tuesday after The Times newspaper first reported allegations of sexual impropriety by senior aid workers in earthquake-hit Haiti in 2010.

Goldring said: “We really want people to come forward wherever they are and whenever this happened.”

And he also apologised for having played down the accusations when he told the Guardian’s Decca Aitkenhead at least staff had not “murdered babies”.

“I do apologise. I was under stress, I’d given many interviews, I’d made many decisions to try to lead Oxfam’s response to this. I was thinking about amazing work I’ve seen Oxfam do across the world, most recently with refugees coming from Myanmar,” he said.

The charity’s deputy chief executive, Penny Lawrence, resigned last week over the scandal, which grew to include allegations in other countries where Oxfam worked, including the UK.

The Children’s Commissioner said last week that everyone supervising children in Britain’s charity shops should undergo a full criminal record check, after HuffPost UK established thousands of volunteers are failing to do so.

None of the major charity retailers HuffPost UK contacted said they conducted Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on all their shop volunteers, after Oxfam told HuffPost it was reviewing whether it could perform the formal reviews on all its 23,000 unpaid helpers.

Other charities, including Barnardos, British Heart Foundation, and Age UK last week confirmed to HuffPost they had also received multiple allegations relating to safeguarding in the past year.

Oxfam said on Friday that it would temporarily stop bidding for government funding until it could prove it can meet the standard expected of it.

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